What is Tae Kwon-do

INTRODUCTION
Taekwon-Do is a modern martial art with a history that spans back thousands of years in an ancient method of self-defense that has been refined with modern day physics to become one of the most powerful martial arts in existence. It integrates the best of foot, hand, elbow and knee techniques, as well as throws and joint locks, in a system of self-defense combinations.

Taekwon-Do exemplifies the high standards set by the International Taekwon-Do Federation (ITF). It offers a beneficial program for all ages, that increases physical fitness and confidence, heightens mental alertness and has a strong ethical foundation best exemplified by the five tenants of Taekwon-Do: courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control and indomitable spirit.

ITF TAEKWON-DO CURRICULUM
I.Patterns – These are combinations of techniques performed against imaginary opponents. This helps the student to develop focus and power while maintaining natural and fluid body motion.

II.Fundamentals – The building blocks of Taekwon-Do, the proper execution and full understanding of each punch, block or kick is essential in order to become a proficient Black Belt.

III.Sparring – Performed in a strictly controlled environment, the actual application of Taekwon-Do is practiced against peers. A no contact policy is employed at all lower levels.

IV.Breaking – Once a student obtains a certain level of proficiency in Taekwon-Do, wood and/or re-breakable boards are used to measure the effectiveness of the students’ technique and power.

V.Self-Defense – Basic self-defense moves and release methods are part of the ITF curriculum.

VI.Competitions – Students can compete in tournaments with the opportunity to win medals and trophies in individual or team events in all aspects of Taekwon-Do.

Whatever you are looking for in Martial Arts, ITF Taekwon-Do has a program that fits your needs.

The Korean Martial Art of Taekwon-Do was created by the late General Choi Hong Hi,

(1918-2002) Founder of the International Taekwon-Do Federation (ITF). It was created by combining movements of Japanese Karate and the traditional, but crude, Korean martial arts of Soo Bak Gi and Tae Kyon. Through extensive research and testing, Taekwon-Do has evolved into one of the most beautiful and effective martial arts in the world. Today, it has become one of the most popular martial arts in the world because anyone regardless of age, gender or size can benefit from its training. As mentioned previously, Taekwon-Do offers a wide array of physical and mental benefits for both young and old. It is also an activity that parents can participate in with their children and use to strengthen family bonds. Lastly, Taekwon-Do promotes peace. Unfortunately, many people today believe that the martial arts spawn violence. This is NOT true. The Taekwon-Do student is trained to avoid conflict if at all possible and to use their skills when all other measures have been exhausted. The philosophy of Taekwon-Do can be summed up by the following tenents:

¬COURTESY

¬INTEGRITY

¬PERSEVERANCE

¬SELF-CONTROL

¬INDOMITABLE SPIRIT

The goal of all Taekwon-Do students is to incorporate these tenants into their daily lives. Another example of the ideals Taekwon-Do aims to achieve is evident in its Oath:

¬I SHALL OBSERVE THE TENANTS OF TAEKWON-DO

¬I SHALL RESPECT MY INSTRUCTORS AND SENIORS

¬I SHALL NEVER MISUSE TAEKWON-DO

¬I SHALL BE A CHAMPION OF FREEDOM AND JUSTICE

¬I SHALL BUILD A MORE PEACEFUL WORLD

BENEFITS OF TRAINING
We realize that the ability of a child to defend himself/herself is very important, but far more important are the tools the child will need to develop into a well-rounded adult. Therefore, children learn respect, courtesy and self-control while participating in a good exercise program. As students of martial arts, they build confidence and self-esteem while they progress through the program. Each of these characteristics improves attitudes and grades. Our objective is to help children improve in all faces’ of their lives. Because of its origins in the Orient, it is based on the principles of humility, respect, integrity, patience, perseverance and loyalty. This philosophy is the cornerstone of conduct indicative of true martial artists. Taekwon-Do is much more than just one of the most efficient methods of unarmed self-defense, it serves as an invaluable tool for improving self-control, stamina, flexibility, coordination and sharpening reflexes.
TAEKWON-DO
Is TKD a martial art or is it a sport?

Is TKD a mere pastime or is it a guide onto a spiritual domain?

Is TKD a release of inner aggression or is it a way to better know and handle
that aggressiveness?

Is TKD a sort of gymnastics to attain flexibility or is it a technical sport?

Any attempt to describe Taekwon-Do would only circumscribe it or limit it, since its very broadness of scope is at its core and TKD´s value results from adding up of all those elements.

The concept of fusion and harmonious development of mind and body proposed by TKD is a universal aspiration.

What we call mind, what we refer to as spirit belongs to the metaphysical realm and it is indeed not simple to describe what may not be touched, seen or heard.

Human spirit appears to us much wider and deeper than what may be perceived, therefore the need to lay the greatest emphasis on that part of training related to character building.

On the physical plane, the search for technical perfection as regards personal defense is what allows us to channel and harness the energy generated by aggressiveness, which is a basic human instinct for survival.

Why can only ITF´s Taekwon-Do instructors guarantee a successful transmission of the principles and techniques of TKD?

•Because ITF instructors are endowed with an unparalleled professional formation, recognized in every continent of the world for its solid preparation and the depth and breadth of their knowledge.

•Because throughout their training, ITF has fostered in its instructors lofty ideals of behavior, with models of courtesy and discipline as fundamental pillars of their education.

•Because ITF´s Taekwon-Do instructors are fully identified with the guiding principles of Taekwon-Do and have themselves thoroughly performed every student’s duty.

•On the very basis of TKD´s philosophy there is the hope of accomplishing a better society and the purpose of spreading the benefits of its practice beyond the gymnasium´s walls.

•Because ITF´s Taekwon- Do instructors are fully qualified to handle aggressiveness either by funneling it according to previously established behavior agreements or to awaken it in those children who cannot express it due to insecurity.

•Because every stage in the student´s life has been analyzed in depth, developed and carried out by the ITF after detailed joint study till a demanding teaching syllabus has been developed, the fruit of long years of experience and professionalism, both in children’s Taekwon-Do and in adult TKD.

•Because ITF Taekwon-Do instructors love their work and put into it their utmost conviction, knowing that TKD is a substantial contribution for the improvement of the society they live in.

CHILDREN AND TAEKWON-DO
The teaching and practice of a martial art is an important and delicate matter in the development and in the life of a child.

We often wonder:

•What motivation is there in the child’s undertaking in Taekwon-Do?

•Why are the parents interested in that the child should take up TKD?

•Why can a doctor, a psychologist or a teacher be interested in recommending TKD practice to a child?

Throughout these years of teaching practice we have heard multiple answers to these questions, that we might synthesize as follows:

•So that the child may learn to defend himself.

•So that the child may acquire self-confidence

•So that the child may perform a physical activity

•So that the child may improve his physique or his posture

•So that the child will lose weight

•So that the child may improve his body co-ordination

•Because the child is too aggressive

•Because the child is too quiet and shy

•Because the child cannot handle his impulses or reactions

•So that the child will stay away from bad companies or give up bad habits.

All these answers point towards the great many benefits derived from the practice of Taekwon-Do in order to adequately perform in a society as conflictive and competitive as ours, where it is not at all simple to find the proper channels where to give vent to our fears, or to our aggressiveness.

Therefore, it is fundamental to make a right choice of a professional instructor able to guarantee a top level technical tuition and also be a model of conduct and ethics for the child.

During his learning the child will soon come to understand that victory and defeat are natural circumstances of everyday life and he will acquire a growing maturity that will enable him to become a better companion, a better son or daughter, a better sibling and in his/her later adult life keep on developing healthily as a wholesome person.

PHYSICAL BENEFITS OF TAEKWON-DO PRACTICE
Lessons focus on skills as the fundamental axis of the child’s corporal training.

Balance, agility, calm and surprise, flexibility and concentration are developed.
Practice allows the child to reach a fine command of physical skill, since every part of the body needs to be exercised, within a framework that includes motion, reaction, dodging, blows and kicks.
Practice will provide the child with ability, avoiding distractions while expanding the range of his eyesight, gaining flexibility in his joints, potency in his muscles and a greater dynamics in his movements.

In synthesis, from TKD practice, the child will obtain:

•an efficient means of self-defense

•mind and body co-ordination, improvement of skills and physical adroitness applicable to any other physical activity

•reflexes, capacity for swift reaction and concentration

•an understanding of Taekwon-Do´s philosophical fundamentals

•an environment wherein to adequately release his energies, avoiding behavioral disorders and in terms of prevention, reducing risks of addiction to drugs or to alcohol.

INTELLECTUAL BENEFITS OF TAEKWON-DO PRACTICE
Opposite to what many people presuppose, Taekwon- Do practice does not produce in children any inclination to violence or injuries of any sort.

On the contrary, the child learns right from the start how to control his muscular tone and how to regulate his aggressiveness, sin TKD lessons are carried out in a mood of healthy companionship and mutual respect.
We stimulate in the child the will to achieve goals in life by means of his own resources.

At the same time, Taekwon- Do training as conducted by ITF instructors builds up in the child a growing willpower and an unshakable faith in his own potential, within an atmosphere of humility and tolerance, providing him with a context where to release or awaken aggressiveness in a controlled way, being able to develop self-assurance while exalting moral values and facilitating a harmonious resolution of aggressive situations.

It is because of all these factors that Taekwon-Do becomes a testimony in favor of non-violence and its constant practice is a straight path that leads to its very essence, building along the way a sane mind, a healthy body and a rich spirit.
And a child who is mentally, physically and spiritually fulfilled is a happy child, ready to face life´s challenges and to succeed in them.
BY TRANSFORMING FEAR IN TRUST, BY REDUCING THE LEVEL OF AGGRESSION, WITH THE PROPER CHANNELING WE WILL REPLACE AGGRESSION BY TOLERANCE

CONCLUSION
Since a child´s build is delicate and he is at a stage of growth and development, Taekwon-Do must be learnt in an orderly and rational way, with students being coached by top-notch professionals who are experts in aggression management.

ITF´s approach to TKD teaching is keenly aware of differences in age, build and weight of its practitioners, addressing these characteristics in a personalized way.

The International Taekwon-Do Federation guarantees that the child will

•Acquire the capacity to physically and mentally operate in increasingly complex levels.

•Value friendship, truth, justice and liberty as bases for civilized, harmonious understanding and human development.

•Adopt attitudes of collaboration, respect, plurality and understanding towards child companions and towards grown-up’s

•Act safely and confidently within different contexts and environments.

•Make good use of his/ her leisure time.

•Resolve aggressive situations without needing to prove their courage or being exposed to peer pressure.

•Handle and release aggressiveness without injuring themselves or hurting others.

AND ABOVE ALL ACCEPTS THAT VICTORY AND DEFEAT ARE NATURAL, CHANGING CIRCUMSTANCES IN EVERYDAY LIFE.

WOMEN AND TAEKWON-DO
Present day society seems to be turning increasingly violent. Robbery and rape are two forms of danger to which modern women are exposed.

It is extremely important for a woman to feel safe.

TKD offers an efficient system of personal defense and a suitable channel where to release aggressiveness.

In the case of women, who have traditionally seen their release of aggression curtailed, TKD practice produces excellent benefits both in behavior and in character.

As from 6 years of age, girls are able to take up Taekwon-Do without the need for any previous training.

This proposal is oriented towards personal defense through a physical and technical training that implies active exercises of attention and intellectual faculties. Besides, in each course special orientation will be provided in cases where excessive aggression is manifested.

Taekwon-Do training as conducted by ITF instructors does not produce excessive development in muscles, but transforms fatty and flaccid tissue into firm tissue.

The turning motions of the torso when kicking develop a firm abdomen, the high flexing of the leg also develops the side of the trunk and the internal muscles of the thigh endowing them with a new flexibility.

Taekwon-Do is particularly suitable for women, as muscular firmness is achieved in the lower abdomen, in the hips and in the inner side of the thighs, all these being key areas of the female body that convey a youthful appearance in women of all ages.

Another advantage that women obtain from ITF Taekwon-Do practice is an new agility and plenitude in fitness, the unquestionable fact of feeling ¨in good shape.¨

ITF Taekwon-Do provides benefits in the field of perception, in motion synchronicity, in eyesight, in physical development, in the aerobic state of the heart and of the lungs.

Each individual technique is repeated until it is fully assimilated, that is until a conditioned reflex has been created that will allow the technique to be applied swiftly and efficiently; in the training towards this goal, the TKD practitioner gains will-power, perseverance and self-control.

Confirming this growing bodily potency increases the TKD student´s confidence.

Taekwon-Do makes a woman more self-assured and allows her to dispel fears about the violent world in which we live.

TKD endows a woman with a slimmer figure and contrary to popular belief, combat does not take away her femininity but rather enhances it.

Nowadays a woman feels the social pressure to look ¨extremely slender¨ and because of this pressure, she subjects herself to strict diets which in some cases may result in pathologies such as Bulimia and Anorexia.

Taekwon-Do offers a real and concrete alternative to prevent such diseases, avoiding disorders and vicious circles, as TKD practice is an integral physical exercise, wherein slimness is the result of increased effort and not of noxious behavior for one´s organism.

DIFFERENCES BETWEEN MARTIAL ART AND SPORT
Perhaps in this difference lies one of the main benefits that the child receives when learning this martial art.

Whereas sport proposes defeating a rival, a martial art takes our physical limitations, our fears and anxieties as the rival to beat, i.e. we must wage combat with ourselves in agreement with values that enable us to live within a better society.

Providing the body with a powerful new language to channel the degree of aggression that every human being brings within himself, warrants a special code, a series of conduct and protocol norms that distinguish a martial art from a sport.

The verticality in hierarchic scale with which the art is conducted implies among other things a degree of detachment in the relationship between teacher and pupil, as between the different categories established, to ensure an atmosphere that will allow carrying out the syllabus.

CONCERNING OUR TEACHING METHOD
The child first becomes acquainted with Taekwon-Do in the shape of a game, with movements that allow him to incorporate a simplified system of co-ordination that facilitates his learning.

If it is possible to perceive certain differences between male Taekwon-Do and female categories, still more may be found in the specific approach to children´s categories.
The International Taekwon-Do Federation has an exclusive method that ensures optimum use of the time devoted to learning, in a progressive move from the simple to the complex.

Such progression is obtained from the study contents known as ¨Cycle of Taekwon- Do composition¨

This cycle is divided into five subjects, to facilitate its learning.

MOTIVATION AND INCENTIVES
Motivations and rewards are of utmost importance in the life of a child; therefore awards are handed out in every children´ s category on a monthly basis, acknowledgements for performance in practice, attitude, effort and good companionship. Also, the instructor will demand that child display his/her school report card and show that they are responding to school exigencies and not only to TKD´s.
EXHIBITIONS
It is usual to hold TKD exhibitions, especially towards the end of the year, when prizes are given out to the best students (awarded by the instructor) and also the prize for best companion (awarded by the children themselves).

Such exhibitions and awards help parents and teachers to assess the enthusiasm and progress of the children.

PROMOTION
Progress in practice is represented by the color of each belt worn. Each belt color represents a different category; categories are achieved by means of promotion exams.

Those examinations are held with variable frequency according to the degree to be assessed.

At the early stages of practice these exams are more frequent, whereas they become more sporadic as the student reaches higher ranks.
The instructor assesses when the time is ripe for a student to take a promotion examination, since training is at all times personalized.

TOURNAMENTS
Tournaments are the proper occasions when to test skills and forge the student in the concepts of victory and defeat during competition. A learning which is of utmost importance for the adult and a necessary condition for the child´s maturity.